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Rio Grande do Norte.

Rio Grande do Norte.

6 days in to my cycling trip from Porto Alegre to Salvador da Bahia, I thought I would make a little status, as I have today left the state of Rio Grande do Sul and cycled in to Santa Catarina. These are my 5 cents about cycling around the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil.

I started in Porto Alegre.

Porto Alegre was damp and cold.

Porto Alegre was damp and cold.

I flew in from Lisbon to Porto Alegre, which is the southern most big city in Brazil and home to more than 2 million people. What I first noticed was that Porto Alegre can be very cold in june and I was freezing my balls of the first few days. I found a good place to buy a bicycle though and a wonderful football bar to watch football and drink excellent brazilian craft beer. More about that bar here: http://brechodofutebol.com/

Fantastic football bar in Porto Alegre.

Fantastic football bar in Porto Alegre.

Leaving Porto Alegre by bicycle.

I had to change my plans because of these road signs.

I had to change my plans because of these road signs.

My initial plan was to take the 290 road that goes directly from Porto Alegre to the Atlantic coast, but there were big signs saying “no bicycles and horse carts” at the entrance to that road, so I decided to take another road. I could probably have gotten away with taking that road, but I prefer to stay out of trouble when I am cycling around, so I started to look for an alternative.

 

Cycling to Novo Hamburgo.

Cycling towards Novo Hamburgo.

Cycling towards Novo Hamburgo.

Novo Hamburgo was quite nice.

Novo Hamburgo was quite nice.

I decided to cycle up to the town Novo Hamburgo and then head east from there on a smaller road. The road up to Novo Hamburgo was heavily trafficked in the beginning, which is no surprise, as Porto Alegre is a very industrial city with lot’s of production and therefor lot’s of trucks going in and out of the city, but the road had an ok shoulder, so I felt quite safe cycling out of the city. Novo Hamburgo was settled by german immigrants in the 1820’s and therefor has this very german sounding name. These days it’s mainly known for it’s huge shoe production and it’s a fairly pleasant city to stay for a night.

 

Driving with shitty tires never pays off.

Got myself a new bicycle pump and some new tires.

Got myself a new bicycle pump and some new tires.

When I bough my mountain bike in Porto Alegre, I did not bother to check what tires were on it. When you buy a new bike, they almost always come with some standard tires that are fine if you are just driving up and down the road in you local neighborhood, but these are absolutely no good for touring. I had not checked them though and that resulted in my front tire blowing up just outside Novo Hamburgo, so I had to carry my bike 5 kilometers to the closest bike repair shop, as my bike pump also broke when I tried to replace the tire. Two days later I had to change the back tire, after a triple puncture in one day. Bottom line is that you should always invest in proper tires for a long bicycle journey. A cheap bike can easily do a long journey, as long as it has proper tires, but remember to have the proper tires, unless you love repairing flat tires.

Rio Grande do Sul is cold in june.

Cycling in Rio Grande do Norte.

Cycling in Rio Grande do Sul.

One thing that might surprise some people, is that the south of Brazil can be quite cold in winter months, which are june/july/august. When driving through Rio Grande do Sul I actually paid extra in my hotel two times to have heating because I was so cold at night. Once I was out on the road during day time, I was absolutely fine, but when the sun started top set things got cold.

 

Up along the wonderful coast of Rio Grande do Sul.

Friendly guys in a cafe, where I fixed a flat tire.

Friendly guys in a cafe, where I fixed a flat tire.

Torres beach in Rio Grande do Sul.

Torres beach in Rio Grande do Sul.

Once I got away from the heavy traffic you have in the Porto Alegre/Novo Hamburgo region, things were really good. I hit the coast and started biking north and the road was really good and either had a nice shoulder, or was a quiet road with little traffic. One of my biggest challenges was actually to move on once I made a stop, as so many people wanted to talk about my trip and hear where I came from. But hey, this is really a very pleasant problem to have. I went up the coast until Torres, which is the last town in Rio Grande do Sul. Torres is situated by a stunning beach and is very popular with the upper/middle class from Porto Alegre and many argentinians also go there during weekends and summer months. I though the center was a little too build up for my taste, so I ventured across the river and a little north of town and found a wonderful little pousada there, where I got a nice room for a very fair price. I would really recommend this place to people who love beach life, but prefer to stay out of the hustle and bustle of the city center in Torres. You can read more about the place Here

Pousada Aventura in Torres.

Pousada Aventura in Torres.

All in all, this has been a really nice week of touring Rio Grande do Sul by bicycle and I would recommend this state for cycling to people who are not afraid of some cold weather at times and I would in particular recommend the coastline of Rio Grande do Sul for some really good cycling.

Next stop on my brazilian bicycle tour will be Santa Catarina.

Claus.

You know you are a tour cyclist when you sleep with you bicycle.

You know you are a tour cyclist when you sleep with you bicycle.

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8 Comments

  1. Great write up.

  2. Cool trip so far. Wow, you bought a bike when you got there.how much? It’s it a Mr bike that you are rising in the road? Do y have saddle bags or a back pack or both. How are you carrying water

    • Hi’ Dianne.
      I have a set of panniers for my bike and only around 10 kilos of luggage, including my laptop. I do not really carry water, as there is a gas station, cafe or grocery store every few kilometers, so i see no need to drag big water bottles around, that only puts a lot of weight to my bike.

  3. Hi, Claus, couple question. 1. You mentioned that you bought a bike for this trip. What happened at the end? Did you sell, donated or just left somewhere? Last summer we bought bikes in Costa Rica and had to donate them to local charity by the end of our trip, which made me feel good but some strain on a budget ;). 2. Do you usually buy a bike for your trip or on other occasions bring it with you? Thanks!

    • Hi’ Elena.
      I often buy a bike at the beginning of the trip, unless I fly with airlines such as Emirates or Qatar Airways, where I can take the bike for free. At the end of this trip, I decided to bring the bike back home as I really liked it, but I have sometimes given it away at the end of the trip, usually to some local person who has helped me along the way.

      • Thank you, Claus.
        Always learning something – Qatar is one of the airlines that we use fairly often, but I didn’t know that they have such a generous bikes policy. That opens interesting opportunities. Frankly, after getting an eye-watering quote from Aegean couple years ago I just assumed that flying bike is out of budget.

  4. Muhammad Farhan

    hey claus, do you an account on connect garmin ? it would be great to have a cycling route for rio grande do sul… and can you estimate roughly, the minimum transit duration from Porto alegre to Florionoplis ?

    • Hi’ Muhammad. I do not use gps, so I am not able to use connect Garmin I think. I actually cycled the route without help of any electronic devices. Porto Alegre to Florianopolis is around 500 kilometers of driving, by the way.

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